This is the 26th installment of the book I am currently writing. It is Sci-Fi/Adventure for young adult. It is not part of the Oz Chronicle series. It will be out in paperback soon Click on the “Lost Days Book” category on the right to read from the beginning. Or you can click here
There weren’t many places I could be alone in my grandparents’ house. I couldn’t trust Grover to keep his mouth shut about the newspaper clippings, and I would have to explain too much to him anyway. There was only one place I could go. I stuck my head in the kitchen and told Nana Taffy I was going to Owen’s to study. She insisted I take a sandwich with me. She couldn’t let me skip dinner. I tried to argue, but she wouldn’t let up. I finally relented and nervously stood behind her in the kitchen while she prepared me a meatloaf sandwich. My stomach turned at the thought of it. She packed it in a baggy and handed to me. I nearly knocked Grover to the floor as I bolted out the door and headed toward Owen’s house.
When I arrived at his door, he answered holding a plate of bean burritos. He was surprised to see me.
“What’s the matter your boy friend have an ass-munch meeting?”
“Downstairs now!” I commanded.
He took a bite of one the burritos and considered my tone. “Why?”
I grabbed his arm by his flimsy bicep and pulled him to the door leading to his basement. “Going downstairs with Hayley, ma!”
“Ask her if she’s hungry?” his mom yelled.
At the bottom of the stairs, Owen asked “You hungry?”
I didn’t answer. I tossed my backpack on the couch. “Look, you have got to swear to me that what I am about to show you and tell you, you will never tell anyone, ever!” I jabbed my finger in front of his face to emphasize how serious I was.
He swallowed a mouthful of burrito and looked at me as if frightened for his very life. “Okay… sure.”
I closed my eyes and mapped out what I was going to say. “My uncle is a Bigfoot researcher.”
“I know,” he said. “My cousin told me. Said he had a bunch of cool crap in his room.”
“You’re not hearing me,” I said. “My uncle believes in Bigfoot. He thinks he’s seen it. Observed it like some scientist or something.”
I placed my hands on my hips. He wasn’t getting it. “It’s not cool. It just proves that my uncle is crazy.”
“Because he thinks Bigfoot is real.”
“It is,” Owen said chomping down on another burrito.
“What…no, listen to me. I think my uncle believes he was raised by Bigfoot.”
Owen nearly choked on his food. “What?”
I sat down on the couch and unzipped the backpack. “He was in this accident when he was a kid. His mother was driving, and their car went over a cliff. She was killed, and Uncle Crew was thrown from the car.” I couldn’t bring myself to continue. It was too ridiculous.
“And?” Owen finally said.
“And,” I started. “There was this bear, and it was about to… eat Uncle Crew… I guess, and this thing… attacked it. Killed it actually.” It sounded so stupid I chuckled involuntarily.
“You’re saying your uncle was about to be mauled by a bear and Bigfoot came to his rescue,” Owen said dropping down on the couch next to me.
“I didn’t say it. J-Rob said it.”
“My uncle’s friend.”
“I don’t get why this means your uncle was raised by Bigfoot.”
I pulled out the newspaper clippings. “My uncle was missing for over a year. They found the car and granddaddy’s first wife.” I looked intently at Owen. “Who, by the way, was decapitated in the accident.”
Owen rubbed his neck and said sarcastically, “That’s pleasant. Thanks for that.”
“Welcome to the image that’s burned in my brain. Anyway, J-Rob didn’t say it out right, but I think he was trying to say that this… Bigfoot thing took care of Uncle Crew that year or so that he was missing.” I placed the small stack of clippings on my lap, and handed him the one Grover had shown me. “Check it out.” His eyes zoomed across the article. I started to read the next one.
Campers Find Child’s mitten Near Colville – Authorities are baffled by the discovery of a missing glove that was identified as belonging to a missing Stevens County boy. The boy has been missing for 52 days, and most had given up hope that he would ever be found alive. The discovery of the glove has given his father, Hank Stanton, hope that his son is alive somewhere in the Colville National Forest.
Owen retrieved a clipping from my lap and began to read. “Footprints,” he said.
He turned the clip toward me. “They found giant footprints around the site of the crash.”
I took the clip from him and read in disbelief. “There’s no way… Yep, see, I told you this is all a bunch of BS. Says here that a forest ranger in the area said that people often times misidentify bear tracks as human tracks. Something about the back paw overlapping the front paw.” I held up my finger. “It says, and I quote, ‘This coupled with the presence of melting snow can cause bear tracks to take on a distinctly human shape.’”
He shook his head. “What is it going to take to convince you it’s real?”
“When there’s a big hairy ape standing on two legs with giant feet staring at me two inches from my face,” I said. I picked up another article and read about some kids driving through some old country roads and swearing they saw a little boy standing on the side of the road, another article about the dangers of driving on lumber roads, citing the accident as a perfect example of what can go wrong, and a bunch of clippings about articles of clothing and torn fabric that reportedly belonged to my uncle. I could imagine granddaddy suffering the emotional rollercoaster that the whole ordeal must have caused him. He would probably just get to the point where he was ready to let go, and accept the fact his son was dead, and then evidence would pop up that suggested he was still alive. The authorities never had a plausible explanation as to why the evidence would appear in various spots in some of the most remote areas of Washington and British Columbia.
“Bingo!” Owen yelled. He started to read. “Two teenage boys claim to have spotted the mythical monster of the woods, Bigfoot, in Colville National Forest with what appeared to be a small boy.” He handed me the clipping. “There’s a picture.”
I looked at the article and examined the picture. It was of a blurry, large dark mass standing between two trees. It could have even been the shadow of one of the trees. “How surprising, a fuzzy picture of Bigfoot,” I said sarcastically.
“That’s not the point,” Owen said. “Your uncle’s friend said that Bigfoot saved your uncle from a bear.”
“So, here’s confirmation that your uncle was seen with Bigfoot.”
“By two teenage dweebs. C’mon, that doesn’t prove anything.”
We went through all the articles and found more of the same stuff. All of it was interesting, but none of it shed light on what really happened to Uncle Crew during the time he was missing. I don’t believe he could have survived by himself for that period of time, and I sure as hell didn’t believe Bigfoot helped him.
“Have you seen the film yet?” Owen asked.
“The Patterson film I told you about.”
I groaned. “Owen…”
“C’mon,” he said standing. He made his way over to the computer in the corner of the basement. I reluctantly followed. He grabbed the mouse and opened the web browser. Within seconds he had the clip on the screen. I watched as the image shuttered and shook. Then it stabilized. A large ape-like creature walked along a creek bed and behind some fallen timber. The creature looked back at the camera and continued on until it was out of frame.
“Well?” Owen said. “What do you think?”
I shrugged. “Looks like a guy in a gorilla suit.”
It was Owen’s turn to groan. “Are you kidding me?” He re-started the video and stepped through it. “Look, you see the muscle flex in its thigh. You can practically see the tendon in the knee, and do you know what these are?” He pointed to the chest as the ape looked at the camera.
I squinted and looked closely. “What?”
“Boobs!” Owen said. “It’s got breasts!”
“It does?” I asked and moved in closer to the monitor. “Yeah, it does,” I practically shouted.
“What do you say now?”
I shrugged again. “Big deal. I’ve seen a million costumes in movies as good as this one.”
He shook his head in disgust. “Sure you have, today. This film was shot in 1968. Have you seen Planet of the Apes from back then? That make-up doesn’t even come close to this, and it was a big Hollywood movie.”
I patted him on the back. “Owen, don’t get me wrong. I think it’s cute that you believe in this stuff, but you might want to dial it down a notch or two. You’re about to drift into the J-Rob and Uncle Crew crazy zone.”
His cheeks became flushed. He angrily pushed himself back from the computer and stood up. “You…” he started in a high-pitched voice, cleared his throat and dropped it an octave. “You’re just being stubborn for stubborn sake. If you want to know what happened to your uncle, you’re just going to have to break out of your comfort zone and accept the fact that some of the things you thought weren’t possible just might be possible.” He turned in a huff and went back to his plate of burritos.
I sat down at the computer and looked at the blurry face of the ape on the screen. How could anyone seriously believe this stuff was real? “Okay,” I said. “Let’s say that this is real… Bigfoot, I mean. How could it care for a four-year-old boy? It’s just an ape. Apes can’t take care of humans.”
Owen sniffed a burrito and took a bite. “‘A,’ they’re not just apes. They’re pretty smart. Smart enough to remain a mythical animal in North America even though there have been people here for thousands of years. Twenty percent of people believe in them, and the other eighty percent think that the twenty percent is crazy. And ‘B,’ there is such a thing as feral children you know. Children raised in the wild by wolves or dogs or whatever. Other animals have done it. Don’t see why a Bigfoot couldn’t.”
The door to the basement opened and Owen’s mother yelled down. “Hayley, honey, your mother just called she wants you to come home. Should I drive you?”
“No, Mrs. Doogan, that’s alright. I can walk.” I collected the newspaper clippings and placed them in the backpack. I slipped my right arm through the strap and draped it over my shoulder. “Not a word of this to anyone, Owen. Not even Denise.”
He chuckled. “Especially not Denise.”
I started up the stairs, but stopped when Owen called out my name.
“Hayley, why are going out with Joyner on Friday?”
“Why…” I shrugged my shoulders. “He asked me.”
“Do you like him?” he asked.
I thought about the question. “I want to like him,” I said.
“Because life’s easier when you hang out with a guy like Joyner. People look at you differently. Treat you nicer.”
He shook his head. “Didn’t think that stuff mattered to you.”
“Kind of surprised me, too.”